Over the weekend, I attended the Garth Brooks World Tour in Louisville, KY. Even after 18 years of retirement, Garth fans still know all the words to each one of his songs, even from the early 90’s. It was pretty spectacular watching the crowd stand for the whole show and sing along with every word. For each fan in attendance, you could tell that every song held a different and personal meaning.                   


Less than 36 hours prior to the concert, I attended the funeral of a beloved, young member of our congregation. During the service, there was a time of moving stories and memories, laughter and weeping… but then they played a song - Cultivate’s version of “Great Are You Lord.” Oh my! I wish everyone could have been there to feel the intense moving of the Holy Spirit. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. There was a whispering roar in the room as our church family gently sang along under their breath, beneath their tears, just lower than the volume of the music. Oh how the song brought indescribable comfort and hope, the power of the Truth being sung crashed waves over our hurts and burned deeply with healing. As I watched people singing, I thought about Cultivate’s mission statement: "Preparing hearts to encounter Jesus,” and I was overcome with how simple those words sounded in contrast to how violently I was feeling that purpose in those moments. We are not only called to help prepare hearts to encounter Jesus, but also the resulting effects of what encountering Jesus means - in times of joy and worship, and in times of sorrow and great pain. We can help people find anything they need in Jesus through every kind of circumstance! I hadn’t thought of it like that before experiencing it so immeasurably. God is blessing us to be able to use the power of music to transcend all of time and space so that people can literally stand, undone, in the presence of God.

Observing both of these dissimilar incidents, where music obviously moved people in diverse ways, it becomes evident that there is power in a song. It can stir fond memories, can conjure a variety of emotions, drive a person to action, set them free, provide hope and courage, or bring healing. You can hear a song a thousand times, but depending on what is going on in your life when you hear it from the first time to the one thousandth, it can be a completely different experience.


In 1st Samuel 16:14-23, the Spirit of the Lord had left King Saul and an evil spirit came and filled him with depression and fear. So Saul’s servants said that whenever the king was troubled, they should play soothing music so that the king would be well. David was summoned to come and play the harp for Saul. Every time Saul was troubled, David would play the hard, the tormenting spirit would leave, and Saul would feel better.

How can music have so much power? Or cause so much emotion? There have been hundreds of studies on how music affects the human brain and psyche. It can affect a person darkly just as easily as it can generate life. Perhaps it’s not the song that has the power, but that the song is a conduit for influential things like emotion, darkness, memory, or even the Holy Spirit. Either way, the moments that we have or that we create with music can be reflective or life changing, but all should be to the Glory of God.